“Representation Matters: The Rise in Latinx Artists in Mainstream Media” Op-ed

By Ariana Cervantes

Images: Grupo Firme’s Instagram, GRAMMY’s Website, and Becky G’s Instagram

“Mom, when I grow up I want to be a cantante.” “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be a ranchero.” “Mom, when I grow up I want to be a reggaetonero.” As children, we are told to follow our dreams. But what no one tells you about this journey is the importance of keeping it alive. For many, it’s discouraging to not see people who look like themselves in the media. This was the case for me. 

When I was little, I recall watching Hannah Montana, and thinking no one on that show reminds me of me. No one reminds me of my home. When I played with my dolls, none of my Barbies looked like me. The only connection I could really make with artists, actors, or even dolls was when they had my hair color — brunette. That’s sad. If I was thinking that, imagine how many other children were thinking the same thing. 

The older I get, the more I ponder the thought: if there had been more Latinx individuals represented in the media when I was a child would have made a difference in my life. Today, I see so many Latinx artists in mainstream media, and I have seen how much they have influenced me. And I truly think seeing them at an earlier age would have made a difference in pushing me to follow my dreams. 

One artist who really lit the match for me is Bad Bunny. What is so appealing about him is not only his music, but how he connects with people. Bad Bunny is a regular guy. He worked at a grocery store as a bag boy while catching gigs here and there. Eventually, when his career picked up, he continued to pursue music, leading him to perform at the Superbowl with Shakira to selling out stadiums prior to releasing his most recent album, Un Verano Sin Ti. He is also an activist through his work and social media platforms standing up for LGBTQ+ communities, womens’ rights, and against the apagons and tax breaks in Puerto Rico. That’s an artist. That’s an icon. That’s someone to look up to. 

Bad Bunny does all of this with his hard work, dedication, and commitment to staying close to his Puerto Rican roots. Bad Bunny is one of us, so if he can do it, why can’t I? 

Grupe Firme — the fun-loving ensemble that went from singing corridos to nortenos motivates me as well. At times, they would work 15 hours a day, demonstrating their strong work ethic and dedication to one another — they are in  “solidarity.” This friendly-like experience contributes to their concert presence as families go to concerts together to see them perform live. 

They also are very supportive towards the LGBTQ+ communities as one of the members is gay. Their openness and inclusivity is a great thing to admire, as Mexican culture contains, unfortunately, machismo views. Grupo Firme demonstrates a new form of unity within the Mexican community.

Becky G is another person who worked hard to get to where she is. She would cover songs on YouTube and eventually began singing her own, as many of us grew up hearing the catchy “Shower.” For a while, she only sang in English, but eventually she began to sing in Spanish, which attracted a new audience. She began perform with Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, Natti Natasha, and eventually Karol G, who made the Latin AMA-winning “Mami” with her.

Even though Becky G is still an up-and-coming star, she continues to reach for her dream, something we should all continue doing. She is growing up with us, and reminds us not to rush the process, opportunities will come as long as we continue to keep our dream alive.  

What do all of these Latinx artists have in common? They never gave up on their dream, and because of that, they are in the mainstream media today. Now, more people can see others who look like them achieve their dreams — giving them the fuel they need to to pursue their own. Children who want to be cantantes, rancheros, or even reggaetoneros, now see people who look like them. This all goes to show that representation matters. 

With more Latinx artists in the mainstream media, if and when my future child says “Mom I want to be famoso,” I will respond, “Yes, you will be.” And in my heart know that others have paved a path for them — un camino de amor.

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